Are you slightly intimidated by Tofu? If so, you are not alone. Tofu is a great source of protein that can take the place of meat in many recipes, but few people know how to prepare it. With a little know-how you can stop being intimidated by it and start using it!
Tofu is made from soy beans. The soybeans are first processed to produce soy milk, and then the soy milk is coagulated into blocks. It is very bland, and easily takes on the flavor of anything that is added to it.
Tofu comes in several varieties depending on water content. The more water it contains, the softer the tofu. Silken tofu is the softest, and extra-firm is the hardest. Silken tofu is great for blending into smoothies and soups, and if chopped and cooked will not stay together. If you want to use tofu as a meat replacement, I recommend buying firm or extra-firm. This, when used correctly, will stay together much better when cooking.
It is important to press firm or extra-firm tofu before cooking it. Pressing the water from the tofu makes it have a more meat-like texture. Below are directions for pressing tofu:
1. Cut open the package of tofu and strain off all of the water.
2. Carefully remove the block from the package and press it gently between two paper towels to absorb as much water as possible. Place the block between two fresh paper towels on a hard surface.
3. Place a heavy object on top of the block and paper towels. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.
4. After it is well drained, you can cube, slice, or crumble the block according to your recipe.
Note: While tofu is an excellent source of protein, I try to only use soy-based products once a week or so because I have heard that high levels of soy consumption can be estrogenic, meaning it can increase levels of estrogen in the body in both men and women. Moderation in all things!